“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."



African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Plan to nurture African economies unites fractious G20

Yahoo – AFP, March 18, 2017

The Plateau commercial district of Abidjan, Ivory Coast is seen in 2014
(AFP Photo/SIA KAMBOU)

Baden-Baden (Germany) (AFP) - Ministers from the world's top economies heralded plans to boost development in Africa on Saturday, at an otherwise fractious G20 gathering in Germany.

Berlin, which holds the presidency of the powerful nations' club this year, has made a hoped-for "Compact with Africa" a top priority for 2017.

Africa's future represents "a major geopolitical risk" but also a "chance", German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters Friday as the meeting got under way in the genteel western spa town of Baden Baden.

In their final communique, G20 ministers committed to "fostering private investment including in infrastructure," aiming at "sustainable and inclusive growth" for the continent.

It was "revolutionary" to see Africa so high on the agenda of the G20 for the first time, said Senegal's Finance Minister Amadou Ba on the sidelines of the conference.

Along with counterparts from Ivory Coast, Morocco, Rwanda and Tunisia, Ba was invited to join the world's biggest financial powers at the table in Baden Baden.

South Africa is the only nation from the continent to hold G20 membership.

"This G20 initiative is well timed with its philosophy of suggesting rather than enforcing, as well as the idea of working together," Moroccan Finance Minister Mohamed Boussaid said, emphasising that it was not an "aid programme".

'Win-win partnership'

While the conference has seen bitter wrangling over trade and climate commitments, consensus was easier to achieve on the Africa plan.

The G20 hopes to encourage private investment to build up jobs and infrastructure in African partner countries by offering political support.

Members are, however, offering no financial commitment of their own.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble attends a press conference after
 the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Baden-Baden, 
southern Germany, on March 18, 2017 (AFP Photo/Thomas Kienzle)

"Africa needs infrastructure, some efforts are already underway and should be sped up. We'll need to step on the accelerator and finally allow our countries to participate meaningfully in worldwide free trade," Senegal's Ba said.

European nations might find fewer African migrants and refugees coming to their shores if populations were able to flourish at home thanks to improved infrastructure, healthcare, and education, he argued.

But the African nations were "not here to lend a hand" to European politicians faced with rising popular disquiet over migration, Ba said.

Instead, they hope for "a win-win partnership" with wealthier countries.

To offer the continent a "hopeful and flourishing future, Africa needs the rest of the world by its side," European Union economic affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici told AFP.

'Insufficient'

Before the German plan can be declared a success, G20 countries will themselves have to make financial commitments, said Friederike Roeder of NGO One -- failing that, the plans announced Saturday would remain "insufficient, short-sighted and one-dimensional".

For now, she said, ministers have done little but "reiterate existing plans" concentrating on private-sector investment, even though "these remain countries in need of international aid".

G20 representatives are slated to flesh out the Africa plans at a Berlin conference on June 12 and 13, before a heads of state and government summit in Hamburg in July.

In Baden Baden, there was "a real desire and engagement for this initiative to have concrete results," Morocco's Boussaid said.

Argentina, which will take the baton of the presidency from Germany in 2018, plans to keep the Africa scheme running under its stewardship -- in itself an encouraging sign, Senegal's Ba said.

Related Articles:


… The Future of the Illuminati

Now, I want to tell you something that you didn't expect and something I've reported only one other time. What about all of the money that the Illuminati has? There are trillions and trillions of euro in banks, under their control, waiting. What are they going to do with it and where are they going to use it? It's still here. They're waiting.

This group is waiting for something to happen that they know is going to happen, for they see it coming as much as I do. However, I would like to tell you something that they don't expect. With awareness comes generational shift. Those in charge of this money will not always be elders. The indigos eventually will have it.

They are waiting for something to happen in Africa - the building of a new civilization, a continent that has nothing to unlearn. Once Africa is cured, once it's ready, a new civilization can be created from the ground up. Africans will be ready to learn everything about building a foundation for the most advanced civilization ever and will do it with the most modern and inventive systems available. Eventually, this new continent will even beat the economics of China.

This is the prediction and always has been, and the Illuminati's money will fund it. Did I say the Illuminati will fund it? [Kryon laugh]The Illuminati's money will fund it, but there is a difference from the past, dear ones. The ones who inherit the positions in the Illuminati will be a different consciousness. Listen, they are not suddenly going to be the ones who have the good of everyone in their hearts - hardly. They want to make money, but what they will see instead is a way to make a great deal of money through this investment. In the process, it will automatically help hundreds of thousands, and they will be at the beginning, the foundation, that builds the new Africa. The new African states of unification eventually will create a continent stronger than any of the others, and it will have one currency. The resources alone will dwarf anything in the world.

"Wow, Kryon, how long is that going to take?"

The Humans in the room control that and those listening later and reading. When you leave this room, what are you going to do? Go home, report this, rub your hands together, and wait for it to happen? It won't. For the Humans in the room and the old souls hearing and reading have got work to do, and I've told you this before. You've got work to do.

There's an alliance that you're going to have to create with one another and with another group - the young people of Earth. The youth of this earth are changing the way things work. Can you see it? You're not supposed to sit around and watch them either, because they need you, old soul.

It's time for you to align with the indigos and the concepts of the youth of the planet. Do not think for a moment that their age shows their wisdom. These two attributes are not commensurate with one another; they're not linear. These young people may be older souls than you are! Don't think that because they've got technology that you don't understand that you can't be one with them. Their technology is social networking, the very thing we are talking about, where everyone can talk to everyone. The new consciousness on the planet starts in two areas - the children and the old souls.. …



" .... Africa

Let me tell you where else it's happening that you are unaware - that which is the beginning of the unity of the African states. Soon the continent will have what they never had before, and when that continent is healed and there is no AIDS and no major disease, they're going to want what you have. They're going to want houses and schools and an economy that works without corruption. They will be done with small-minded leaders who kill their populations for power in what has been called for generations "The History of Africa." Soon it will be the end of history in Africa, and a new continent will emerge.

Be aware that the strength may not come from the expected areas, for new leadership is brewing. There is so much land there and the population is so ready there, it will be one of the strongest economies on the planet within two generations plus 20 years. And it's going to happen because of a unifying idea put together by a few. These are the potentials of the planet, and the end of history as you know it.

In approximately 70 years, there will be a black man who leads this African continent into affluence and peace. He won't be a president, but rather a planner and a revolutionary economic thinker. He, and a strong woman with him, will implement the plan continent-wide. They will unite. This is the potential and this is the plan. Africa will arise out the ashes of centuries of disease and despair and create a viable economic force with workers who can create good products for the day. You think China is economically strong? China must do what it does, hobbled by the secrecy and bias of the old ways of its own history. As large as it is, it will have to eventually compete with Africa, a land of free thinkers and fast change. China will have a major competitor, one that doesn't have any cultural barriers to the advancement of the free Human spirit.. ...."

Friday, March 17, 2017

New set-up for Rabobank in Africa to pool interests

DutchNews, March 16, 2017

Rabobank’s headquarters in Utrecht. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Dutch cooperative bank Rabo, which has a broad presence in the African agricultural sector, has joined new consortium Arise to pool the interests of its three partners in Africa, the Financieele Dagblad said on Thursday. 

Arise, which now has investments in more than 20 African countries with a total valuation of $660m, expects to expand its investment portfolio to €1bn. Rabobank has a 25% stake in Arise. Its partner Dutch development bank FMO holds 27% and Norway’s Norfund own the remaining shares. 

Arise bought a 27.7% stake in CAL Bank of Ghana for €24m last month. CAL had a balance sheet total of €737m in mid-2016. The bank booked after-tax profit of €14.3m in the first six months of last year. 

The consortium also bought parts of Ghana-based Crane Bank for an undisclosed sum at the end of January. Crane was formerly owned by Ghana’s richest man Sudhir Ruparelia but after irregularities were discovered it was placed under the protection of the Ghana central bank.

Friday, March 3, 2017

African bankers scrutinize German minister's 'Marshall Plan'

German Development Minister Gerd Müller has been canvassing support for his 'Marshall Plan with Africa' at the African Development Bank in Ivory Coast. Some bankers thought his discussion paper lacked detail.

Deutsche Welle, 3 March 2017

German Development Minister Gerd Müller (left) with AfDB Senior
Vice-President Frannie Leautier

In the modern premises of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in the Ivorian commercial hub of Abidjan, around twenty board members are gathered around an enormous table. Almost all of them are bankers with years of experience in development finance. They meet every week to discuss applications for loans, around 300 every year. Last year they disbursed almost $11 billion (10.5 billion euros) in credit.

At this particular meeting they have a guest. He is Gerd Müller, Germany 's development minister, who has been expounding on his African "Marshall Plan." This is a 30-page discussion paper which envisages "a new level" in development cooperation with Africa in the areas of economic development, trade, education and energy. Müller is seeking partnership with Africa, that is his reason for his presence in Ivory Coast, he explains. "I see you as the voice of Africa," Müller tells the bankers."You are the experts."

The experts thank Müller politely for his display of initiative and his engagement with Africa. Then come words of criticism. "The strategy and the vision covers a lot of ground. I think the focus needs to be narrowed," said one board member. The plan concentrates on creating jobs for young people and offering them a better future. "Is 'Marshall Plan' really the right name for this?" the board member asks. "There aren't enough figures," another banker observes. "Exactly how much could Germany contribute?"

Müller (standing at head of table) faced some tough questions from African
bankers about his African "Marshall Plan"

Closer cooperation instead of capital injection

Unlike the original Marshall Plan, which was enacted in Europe shortly after the end of World War II, Müller's plan does not foresee handing out billions of dollars in loans. Instead, he wants to overhaul development aid, work closer with development partners and hold Africa's elites more accountable for their actions. Müller wants to stop the illegal flight of capital out of Africa and close down the tax havens being used by multinational corporations. Boosting Africa's private sector is also a key component of the German minister's scheme. Unfair trade barriers would be dismantled and African products given better access to European markets.

"I must take you up on that point, Minister," said a banker from Nigeria. "Everybody at this table knows that the current agriculture policy is unfair to Africa. Statistically speaking, a cow in Europe receives more in subsidies than a farmer in Africa." Müller nods but the question as to how exactly he intends to bring about a fairer system remains unanswered.

Müller's plan is currently just a discussion paper drawn up by the development ministry. He has no influence over trade policy, even though he may wish that he did. Many of his ideas have been bandied about in development policy circles for years, prompting  Müller's critics to describe the name "Marshall Plan" as misleading. Others believe that it is a brilliant move, because it guarantees Africa and Müller's ministry a lot of attention in Germany.

As well as meeting development bankers, Gerd Müller (left) also visited a
chocolate factory in Abidjan

German policymakers have started taking more interest in Africa since the start of the migration crisis. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble wants to seal investment partnership agreements with selected African countries within the framework of Germany's G20 presidency. Chancellor Angela Merkel who has already made trips to Mali and Niger - both of which are on the migration route - is now visiting Egypt and Tunisia. Müller is trying to drum up support for his "Marshall Plan" both inside and outside Germany and has received backing from the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani.

AfDB as partner

Müller's ideas fit in well with the AfDB's priorities, said Senior Vice-President  Frannie Leautier. It is also in line with the goals of the African Union. Müller stresses that it would a "Marshall Plan with Africa." "I think the words "with Africa", are very important, Leautier, herself a banker from Tanzania, said. "It is the first time that something is being done about Africa and with Africa," she added. She also welcomed the proposal for the creation of a European Union Commissioner for Africa.

Müller hopes that cooperation with the AfDB will lead to new financial products and financial risk management instruments which will help boost investment and the African private sector. One example would be a loan program for young entrepreneurs. "We are moving in the same direction and the bank is an important strategic partner," Müller told DW. With regard to the financial instruments he would like to see developed, there is a large measure of agreement between himself and the bank's executive management, he said.

But what about the criticism that was voiced by the board? "Journalists only hear the two percent that is criticism. Criticism is stimulating - and highly desirable," Müller said. But the development minister barely addressed the criticism directed at him and so a number of board members are no doubt still wondering how he is going to implement certain aspects of his plan. How is he going to reduce dependency on donors or boost industrialization? Or work together with overstretched public administrations which have little interest in reform? "We are aware of a number of initiatives that were launched in the past and didn't lead anywhere," one banker said. Müller's "Marshall Plan" was a good basis for discussion, but was in need of improvement. He wished Müller "much success and courage" in pursuit of this idea.                    

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

S. African court slaps down bid to leave ICC

Yahoo – AFP, Susan NJANJI, February 22, 2017

The International Criminal Court has been rocked by threats of withdrawal in
recent months, with complaints focusing on its alleged bias against Africa
(AFP Photo/Martijn Beekman)

Johannesburg (AFP) - A South African court on Wednesday ordered the government to withdraw its "unconstitutional" bid to pull out of the International Criminal Court, in a boost to the embattled Hague-based institution.

The decision was a blow to President Jacob Zuma but a welcome piece of good news for the ICC, which has been rocked by threats of withdrawal amid complaints of an alleged bias against Africa.

South Africa announced it had lodged its decision to pull out with the United Nations in October, following a dispute over Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visiting the country in 2015.

South African authorities refused to detain Bashir despite him being the subject of an ICC arrest warrant over alleged war crimes, saying he had immunity as a head of state.

"The cabinet decision to deliver the notice of withdrawal... without prior parliamentary approval is unconstitutional and invalid," said judge Phineas Mojapelo in the North Gauteng High Court.

The president and ministers were "ordered forthwith to revoke the notice of withdrawal".

Justice ministry spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said the government would "reflect on the reasons for the judgement and decide whether to appeal or not".

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party, which was one of the groups that brought the court case, welcomed the ruling.

"The withdrawal by the South African government from the ICC was irrational," DA lawmaker James Selfe told AFP.

"We would like South Africa to stay in the ICC because we believe that it is consistent with our constitution and with the legacy of Nelson Mandela.

"The government should go back to the drawing board and reconsider the thing afresh in light of this judgement."

- ICC under threat? -

After the election of President Adama Barrow, The Gambia's new government in February asked the UN to halt its process of withdrawal from the ICC.

Burundi has registered to leave, while Kenya is considering the move.

Currently nine out of the ICC's 10 investigations concern African countries, the other being Georgia.

However experts point out that many of the current investigations -- in the Central African Republic, Uganda, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo -- were referred to the ICC by the governments of those states.

Bashir has evaded arrest since his ICC indictment in 2009 for alleged war crimes in Sudan's Darfur conflict in which 300,000 people were killed and two million forced to flee their homes.

South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal accused the government of "disgraceful conduct" over Bashir's visit and ruled that the failure to arrest the Sudanese leader was unlawful.

The ICC was set up in 2002 in The Hague as a court of last resort to try the world's worst crimes where national courts are unable or unwilling to act.

The court is unable to carry out investigations in countries which have not ratified its founding Rome Statute, unless the United Nations refers a case for investigation.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cameroonian kid beats internet ban to win coding competition

A 17-year-old Cameroonian has won Google's annual coding award, despite the partial shutdown of internet in his country. Nji Collins Gbah is the first African to win the competition.

Deutsche Welle, 15 February 2017

Young Africans sitting in front of computers (AFP/Getty Images)

The population of the English-speaking North West and South West regions of Cameroon are elated after teenager Nji Collins Gbah became the first African winner in Google's annual coding competition.

The 17-year-old beat all odds, including the internet blackout imposed by the government, to emerge the winner. The Cameroonian government cut off the internet in the English-speaking regions four weeks ago, saying this was necessary to quell unrest and to stop people from using social media to spread what the government calls "anti-state messages."

Protests began in October last year, targeting the alleged marginalization of English speakers by Cameroon's francophone majority. Since then, at least six protestors have been shot dead and hundreds have been arrested.

Undeterred by all this, Gbah traveled to a neighboring town to apply for the global award.

Locals have been thronging the family's home in Bamenda to celebrate the young hero whose win came at a difficult time for  Cameroonians in the South and Northwest regions.

This is an English-speaking part of the country where there are complaints about alleged discrimination and what people see as the francophone establishment's failure to respect the status of English as an official language of Cameroon.

Computer or chores?

Apart from getting round the internet blackout, Gbah also had to borrow his father's computer.

" He used to take my computer and I was not very happy with it because I was feeling that he was only spending time without doing house chores.” Nji Patrick said.

" So at times I used to seize my computer and lock it in the house and I told him not to use it any more because I was believing that he was just spending time on that computer for nothing," Gbah's father told DW.

Gbah went ahead to register for the competition. He had to travel to a French-speaking zone in Mbouda where he could get an internet connection to complete the Google competition tasks.

"They told us to know some basic things in computer science and some basics in computer science programming and how to use certain software. So you basically just need to create an account or use your Google account if you have one,” Gbah explained.

Google's coding competition is now
in its 14th year
After his initial skepticism. his father admitted that his son is now a role model for many youths after beating all odds to win  the Google coding competition.

"I was very very surprised. I blamed myself for being so hard on him but now I am very very happy," Nji Patrick said.

Victory is an inspiration

For many young people in Cameroon, like Atteh Francis, the victory shows how much they are losing due to the internet ban in their region.

"This young man had that inspiration to go to Bafoussam, but you don't know how many of them are there who could have been on the podium but who do not have the chance because of the absence of the internet, and it is a big shame because I don't know how I can live for a day without the internet," Francis said.

For the young winner, his victory is an inspiration to find solutions to problems like the current internet ban in his area.

"I would like to study computer science at university. The main thing is to focus exactly on what you want to do. Once you have a goal and you see that you are going to get benefits at the end, or you are going to learn something new from it, then you should totally go with it," Gbah said.

Meanwhile, the gvernment says the ban will continue.

"Social networks provide lots of opportunities. You can get early warning signals in cases of disasters, but we have noticed that many people use it for unhealthy purposes," ​Cameroon's Minister of Post and Telecommunication Libom Li Likeng  said.

Related Articles:


“…  Last week, I gave you a message about the potentials of 2011. And there were those in this room who attended. I'm going to repeat something I said there, for you need to hear it and it has to do with politics. It would seem intuitive to every single Human Being in the room that in order to accomplish what you do as Americans in Congress, you must have at least two parties. For that is the way it has always been - the red and the blue.

What if I told you that there will come a time when there will be no parties? You might then say, "Well, that's impossible, Kryon, because you're not Human and you don't know how funding works." You might say, "It has to be a party that creates the power to raise money for the ones who cannot, and then the funding is spread around and this is the way we work. If you didn't have parties, you'd have no funding. Nobody could advertise, and no one could get elected."

Oh, really?

Are you aware right now, that you have a president who was elected on the Internet? He figured it out. When everybody can talk to everyone, you have plenty of funding. A few dollars here, a few dollars there. You talk to millions at the same time, they talk to millions at the same time. It's a new paradigm of communication. The young people know all about it, and you can't stop it. Watch for more from this new paradigm.

It is worldwide communication, one person at a time. It doesn't matter how many laws you pass, and it doesn't matter what you decide about who is in charge of it, you can't stop it. It's out of the bag now, and the communities of the young are going to be communicating. This is how the politicians are going to be communicating to you, literally coming into your home in a holographic form perhaps, explaining their position one by one, without a party. Then you will elect them to your Congress without a party and they will sit in the chairs without a division and there will be no such thing as the "other side of the aisle."

And that, Human Being, is called unity and there is a paradigm that you cannot even imagine. And it's in the works. And then you'll have a Congress that works together and gets things done without the current duality.  ….”



"..  Let me tell you where else it's happening that you are unaware - that which is the beginning of the unity of the African states. Soon the continent will have what they never had before, and when that continent is healed and there is no AIDS and no major disease, they're going to want what you have. They're going to want houses and schools and an economy that works without corruption. They will be done with small-minded leaders who kill their populations for power in what has been called for generations "The History of Africa." Soon it will be the end of history in Africa, and a new continent will emerge.

Be aware that the strength may not come from the expected areas, for new leadership is brewing. There is so much land there and the population is so ready there, it will be one of the strongest economies on the planet within two generations plus 20 years. And it's going to happen because of a unifying idea put together by a few. These are the potentials of the planet, and the end of history as you know it.

In approximately 70 years, there will be a black man who leads this African continent into affluence and peace. He won't be a president, but rather a planner and a revolutionary economic thinker. He, and a strong woman with him, will implement the plan continent-wide. They will unite. This is the potential and this is the plan. Africa will arise out the ashes of centuries of disease and despair and create a viable economic force with workers who can create good products for the day. You think China is economically strong? China must do what it does, hobbled by the secrecy and bias of the old ways of its own history. As large as it is, it will have to eventually compete with Africa, a land of free thinkers and fast change. China will have a major competitor, one that doesn't have any cultural barriers to the advancement of the free Human spirit. …." 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Netherlands must prosecute dirty diesel exporters: report

DutchNews, February 7, 2017     

Photo: Depositphotos.com
The Netherlands and Belgium could prosecute dirty diesel exporters Trafigura and Vitol for contravening international agreements, environmental law experts have told Trouw. 

The diesel, which is blended with sulphur and benzene in the ports of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp, is commonly sold to African countries by European oil companies who are taking advantages of the weak fuel standards in those countries, the experts say. 

Swiss-based commodity traders Trafigura and Vitol are responsible for 50% of dirty diesel exports. 

There are no EU rules banning such exports, but according to the Centre for International Environmental Law (Ciel), the practice contravenes the 2005 Basel Convention which says that the export of the fuel is illegal if countries themselves prohibit the import of dangerous waste. 

Ciel says this the case since most African countries have signed the Bamako agreement (1991) which declares such imports illegal. 

‘Therefore the export from Belgium and the Netherlands of fuel with a high sulphur content is in contravention of the Basel Convention,’ Trouw quotes the report as saying. 

Ciel’s lawyers say the export of dirty diesel is also in breach of human rights because the Netherlands and Belgium both signed up to a UN agreement which obliges them to respect people’s right to health. 

Sulphur 

Dirty diesel can contain up to two hundred times the amount of sulphur allowed in Europe. 

Milieudefensie spokesman Bram van Liere, said he expects that minister Lilianne Ploumen, who called the practice ‘scandalous’, will now prosecute the two oil companies ‘with the tools we have given her’. 

The Ciel report, which was commissioned by Swiss NGO Public Eye and Dutch environmental group Milieudefensie, was sent to parliament on Monday. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Will AU members really withdraw from the ICC?

African Union (AU) leaders have backed a strategy for a collective withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC). But it seems that many countries have reservations and that very little will change for now.

Deutsche Welle, 1 February 2017


The news of the adopted AU strategy to withdraw from the Hague based court, came as more of a footnote of the AU summit. There were no big announcements but an AU official who asked not to be identified told the Reuters new agency that "the leaders of AU member states endorsed the strategy of collective withdrawal, with reservations."

At a closer look, the strategy is however more of a recommendation than an actual decision to withdraw from the ICC and a treaty which established the court known as the Rome Statute. The decision is not binding and as country representatives who are in support of the ICC noted, the decision to leave the ICC is up to each individual country.

According to DW's reporter in Addis Ababa, Coletta Wanjohi, several countries which include Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania had reservations about the paper.  Other countries asked for more time to consider the withdrawal strategy.

No concrete steps to withdraw

The call by countries like Kenya, Burundi and South Africa to withdraw from the ICC is, however, not new. The "withdrawal strategy" was initially tabled by Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta a year ago. Until 2014, Kenyatta and his vice president William Ruto were themselves accused of instigating war crimes during the 2007/2008 post-election violence in Kenya. The proposed strategy was then discussed by AU foreign ministers, who wanted to bring their grievances to the UN Security Council. Many African countries are of the opinion that the court is unfairly targeting them.

Cape Verde is one of the countries which 
wants to remain in the Rome Statute
"What happened in Addis Ababa is unprecedented" said Allan Ngari an expert on international crime with the Intstitute for Security Studies in Pretoria. "That a regional body would adopt a decision to withdraw from an international instrument." Ngari however noted that the AU itself is not party to the Rome Statute and it remains up to individual states to decide whether they want to remain within the statute or leave it.

Ngari moreover explained that even the countries which have said that they will leave the ICC and the Rome Statute have so far failed to take any concrete measures to do so. "Kenya introduced a bill in its national parliament to repeal that act that domesticated the Rome Statute," Ngari explained.  The bill, he explained, however, was not passed and expired in January 2017.

Similarly South Africa has proposed several amendments to the Rome Statute. The country was heavily criticized for its failure to cooperate with the court and detain Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir during his visit South Africa in 2015. "If you want to amend the Rome Statute, you must be a party to the Rome Statute," explained Ngari. There are processes to change the treaty from the inside and this is what South Africa and other AU members are doing.

Last year, The Gambia also threatened to leave the ICC. Under the new President Adama Barrow, the country might however review this decision.

Strengthening African justice systems

Whether African countries will follow the recommendations of the strategy paper or not, a handful are still adamant that they will withdraw if nothing changes. "We believe that it needs to improve its working methods. It has been in place for 12 years and it has had three or four convictions," argued Sam Kutesa, Uganda's foreign affairs minister. "It spends $ 180 million (167 million euros) per annum. This is totally incompetent," he added.

Sudan's Secretary of Economics and Development, Hussain Karshaoum, also argued that instead of sticking with the ICC, African countries should instead strengthen their own justice systems. "You have to strengthen the African Courtof Justice and to call for every African state to ratify it as a last resort. The second thing is to strengthen the judicial system at the domestic level," he said.

The outgoing vice chairperson of the AU Commission Erastus Mwencha said what African countries really want is a level playing field. "What happens at the ICC should apply throughout the world and African leaders have said we are ready to sit down and see how we can reform it."

The foreign affairs ministers had planned to discuss a possible reform of the ICC and amendments to the Rome Statute with the UN Security Council. The ministers however said that officials who were sent to the meeting were not senior enough to discuss the proposed changes.

Monday, January 30, 2017

African Union re-admits Morocco after 33-year absence

Yahoo – AFP, Fran Blandy, January 30, 2017

African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th
African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/
Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Addis Ababa (AFP) - The African Union decided Monday to allow Morocco back in the fold after a 33-year absence, despite stiff resistance from some member states over the status of Western Sahara.

After an emotional and tense debate, member states decided by consensus to leave the question of the disputed territory of Western Sahara for another day, and resolve it with Morocco "back in the family."

"From the moment that Morocco did not impose conditions ... we take their word for it and accept that Morocco be admitted to the African Union," said Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, foreign minister of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which claims sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara.

Morocco quit the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1984 after the bloc admitted the former Western Sahara as a separate member.

Some had feared Morocco would demand the expulsion of the SADR as a precondition for its own return to the AU.

Morocco maintains that the former Spanish colony under its control is an integral part of the kingdom, while the Polisario Front, which campaigns for the territory's independence, demands a referendum on self-determination.

Salek said that having Morocco in the same room would allow the SADR to pressure them into fulfilling their obligations and allowing a referendum in accordance with a 1975 decision by the International Court of Justice.

"Now (if) Morocco is blocking (it) will be questioned by the head of states: why are you afraid of a referendum? "Why don't you allow the Sahrawi to choose their future freely?"

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres gives a press conference 
on the sidelines of the 28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African 
Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ZACHARIAS
ABUBEKER)

Family solutions

Delegates attending the summit in the Ethiopian capital described an emotional and tense discussion, with heavyweights like Algeria and South Africa against the re-admission of Morocco.

"Morocco is now a full member of the African Union. There was a very long debate but 39 of our 54 states approved the return of Morocco, even if the Western Sahara question remains," Senegalese President Macky Sall told journalists.

"As we have said, if the family grows bigger, we can find solutions as a family," he added.

Morocco has been angling to return to the AU for several years and King Mohammed VI formally announced his intention to do so in July last year. Since then he has criss-crossed the continent lobbying for support.

Morocco is increasingly looking southwards to expand its economy and has realised it cannot drive an agenda on the continent without being in the AU, observers say.

The membership of affluent Morocco -- the sixth biggest economy in Africa -- could be a boon for the African Union, which lost a key financier in late Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi and is working on ways to become financially independent.

Chad takes helm

The 28th African Union summit began with the swift election of Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat, 56, as the new chairperson of the AU Commission, beating four other candidates.

Faki won in a final battle against his Kenyan counterpart Amina Mohamed after seven rounds of voting, the Kenyan government said in a statement.

Faki, a former prime minister, has been at the forefront of the fight against Islamists in Nigeria, Mali and the Sahel and has promised "development and security" will be top of his agenda as chief of the 54-member continental bloc.

Meanwhile Algerian diplomat Smail Chergui was re-elected to the key post of peace and security commissioner.

Faki takes over from South Africa's Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who is credited with advancing women's issues and moulding the ambitious Agenda 2063, but is seen to have dropped the ball on peace and security.

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame criticised "chronic failure to see through African
 Union decisions (which) had resulted in a crisis of implementation and a perception
that the AU was not relevant to Africans" (AFP Photo/ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER)


'Turbulent times'

The choice of a new leader is crucial for the future of a bloc which is undergoing deep introspection on how to reform to become more relevant and better respond to crises on the continent.

Tasked with leading the reforms, Rwanda's President Paul Kagame delivered a "biting" report to heads of state on Sunday, according to a statement from the Kenyan government.

He criticised "chronic failure to see through African Union decisions (which) had resulted in a crisis of implementation and a perception that the AU was not relevant to Africans".

Kagame also slammed "over-dependence on (donor) funding" which accounts from 70 percent of the AU budget, according to the Institute for Security Studies.

The AU is also grappling with its relationship with US President Donald Trump's administration, sounding the alarm over an immigration ban affecting three African nations.

"The very country (where) our people were taken as slaves... has now decided to ban refugees from some of our countries," outgoing AU Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told some 37 heads of state and leaders from across the continent.

"It is clear that globally we are entering very turbulent times," she added.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Gambia's Jammeh leaves power after 22 years

Yahoo – AFP, Jennifer O'MAHONY and Emil TOURAY with Mouctar BA in Conakry, January 22, 2017

Former Gambia president Yaya Jammeh, the country's leader for 22 years, looks
 through the window from the plane as he leaves the country on January 21,
2017 from Banjul airport (AFP Photo/STRINGER)

Banjul (Gambia) (AFP) - Gambia's veteran leader Yahya Jammeh flew out from the country he ruled for 22 years to cede power to President Adama Barrow and end a political crisis.

Jammeh refused to step down after a December 1 election in which Barrow was declared the winner, triggering weeks of uncertainty that almost ended in a military intervention involving five other west African nations.

The longtime leader, wearing his habitual white flowing robes, waved to supporters before boarding a small, unmarked plane at Banjul airport alongside Guinea's President Alpha Conde after two days of talks over a departure deal.

He landed in Conakry, Guinea's capital but set off again for Equatorial Guinea, where he will remain in exile, the president of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), Marcel Alain de Souza, said at a Dakar press conference.

"No legislative measures" would be taken that would infringe the "dignity, security, safety and rights" of Jammeh or his family, ECOWAS said in a joint declaration with the African Union and United Nations.

Jammeh could return to The Gambia when he pleased, the statement added, and property "lawfully" belonging to him would not be seized.

The Gambian political crisis (AFP Photo/Aude GENET)

Jammeh finally said he would step aside in the early hours of Saturday morning and hand power to Barrow, who has been in neighbouring Senegal but is expected back in The Gambia imminently.

"I call on President Barrow to come in immediately and take over the supreme responsibility of president, head of state, commander in chief and first citizen of our republic," Jammeh said, according to remarks read out on state television before he left the country.

It would be improper not to "sincerely wish him and his administration all the best," he added.

Jammeh took power in a 1994 coup from the country's only other president since independence from Britain, Dawda Jawara, making this The Gambia's first democratic transition of power.

The choice of Equatorial Guinea for his exile helps ease concerns that Jammeh might interfere in his nation's politics if he stayed in Guinea, whose border is not far from The Gambia's eastern region.

Scenes of jubilation broke out almost immediately on streets near Banjul, the port capital, after the news filtered out that Jammeh had gone.

"We are free now. We are no longer in prison. We do not have to watch our back before we express our opinions," said Fatou Cham, 28, who was celebrating with her friends.

Activists will be keen to see Jammeh -- who controlled certain sections of the security forces -- refused amnesty for crimes committed during his tenure, which was marked by systematic rights abuses.

Jim Wormington, West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, called Jammeh's departure "the chance to usher in an era based on respect for the rule of law and human rights."

People celebrate in the streets of Banjul on January 21, 2017 after hearing
 of the confirmed departure of former Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh from the
country (AFP Photo/CARL DE SOUZA)

Avoid a 'bloodbath'

Jammeh's departure followed days of mediation led by Mauritanian president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and Guinea's Conde, who said in a statement he "welcomed the successful outcome of the crisis in The Gambia, which, through dialogue, avoided a bloodbath."

Jammeh attempted to build a personality cult and has left behind a small minority of diehard supporters, some of whom wept as his plane departed.

"We wanted to be behind this man for a century or more," said Alagie Samu, speaking on the tarmac. "He is the most successful, visionary leader in the entire world."

Dressed in green, the colour of his political party, some were loyal to the end.

"No human being is perfect, but for 22 years in the country here he has tried hard for Gambians," said a woman with cheeks wet from tears, who did not wish to be named.

The Gambia is one of the world's poorest nations and although education and health standards have lifted in recent years, poverty remains endemic.

With Jammeh gone, all eyes will be on the Barrow administration as they make their first steps as a government of reform and development.

"The will of the people has come to be at last," said Isatou Touray, a key official in the government-in-waiting. "Democracy is back, you can't stop the people."

Army chief Ousman Badjie, a former Jammeh loyalist, has pledged allegiance to Barrow along with top defence, civil service and security chiefs.

The first priority will be to help the tens of thousands who have fled in recent weeks fearing a bloody end to the crisis to return safely, Touray said earlier Saturday.

Barrow could leave Dakar as early as Sunday to return to The Gambia, a source told AFP.

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